Due to systemic and cultural barriers, breastfeeding rates in the Black community are the lowest of any racial group. Despite those barriers, millions of Black mothers have fought through it all to provide their babies with breast milk. So here, we are pausing to amplify their voices. In honor of Black Breastfeeding Week, we’re featuring a series of stories from Black women who breastfeed their babies and children.
First, we’ll hear from Teeanna. This mother of two is an inspiration, and we hope you’ll enjoy her interview!
What has your breastfeeding journey been like?
T: In the beginning, it was hard due to sore nipples and my daughter being a late term preemie. It was a little stressful at times because I was worried at first that I wouldn’t be able to keep up with her needs while I was away at work. Overall, it’s been pretty easy and our bond is incredible.
Did the women in your family breastfeed?
T: My mom breastfed both my sister and I for 6 months each, other than that breastfeeding isn’t really a topic that’s talked about in my family. Almost all of my extended family exclusively formula fed from day one or they only tried to breastfeed for 1-2 months.
What made you want to breastfeed?
T: When I was pregnant with my oldest daughter I originally wanted to breastfeed because I heard it helped with losing the baby weight. I nursed her for 8 months but was never confident enough to do so in public. With my youngest daughter I really did my research on the benefits of breastmilk and I just knew it was something I needed to do for her. I wanted her to have the best start in life and I knew my milk was what she needed. I made up my mind during my pregnancy that I would not allow anyone or anything to keep me from meeting my goal to exclusively breastfeed her for 1 year.
What is the biggest bf challenge you’ve overcome?
T: I went into this journey knowing I’d be on my own. My daughter’s father and I broke up shortly after I got pregnant. The late nights, early mornings, washing, cleaning & sterilizing pump parts rested solely on my shoulders. To top it off, I commute 5 days a week (3 hours round trip) and work full time. There were so many times that I thought about how much easier formula would be, but I continued breastfeeding because I know her needs are greater than my own.
Who are your biggest supporters?
T: My mom, sister, and 7 year old daughter.
Tell us your favorite story about an experience with breastfeeding.
T: My parents are divorced and right before my daughter turned 1 my dad had kept asking when I would be weaning her. My mom came to my defense before I could answer and said “quit asking her! She’s going to breastfeed her until she’s (at least) 2, so mind your own tits!” My dad fell out laughing and said “well I guess that’s that!”
Prior to having my daughter, Logan, my parents always believed it to be weird and/or unnecessary to breastfeed past 1 year. I know for certain I have normalized full term nursing for them & it makes me so proud that they have come to support my decision to nurse my toddler!
Is there anything else you’d like to share or encourage other moms?
T: Remember your journey is yours and your baby’s journey alone. Do not let anyone dictate to you when you should wean or how frequently you should nurse your baby. It takes a tough mama to breastfeed, especially in the Black community. You don’t need permission nor do you need validation for choosing to give your baby the best!
I just love how her mom went to bat for her like that! A supportive family is such an amazing thing. And how beautiful are her girls?? ❤ Did any part of Teeanna’s story touch your heart? Leave us a comment below, and keep checking back for more stories from amazing Milky Mommas like you!